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CD Projekt cease “identifying, contacting” Witcher II pirates

Thursday, 12th January 2012 18:41 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

CD Projekt as decided to “cease identifying and contacting” those it believed had pirated The Witcher II due to concerns expressed by the community.

According to the firm’s co-founder Marcin Iwinski, an outpouring of concern was expressed over the possibility a legitimate purchaser might be fingered by mistake in the process. Through legal action, the accused would be forced to pay around €750 to the firm in order to avoid going to court where fines and penalties could reach a more considerable sum.

“While we are confident that no one who legally owns one of our games has been required to compensate us for copyright infringement, we value our fans, our supporters, and our community too highly to take the chance that we might ever falsely accuse even one individual,” he said in an open letter posted by RPS.

“Our fans always have been and remain our greatest concern, and we pride ourselves on the fact that you all know that we listen to you and take your opinions to heart.”

Iwinski wanted to make it “clear” the firm still abhors piracy, despite the firm’s move.

“It hurts us, the developers. It hurts the industry as a whole,” he said. “Though we are staunch opponents of DRM because we don’t believe it has any effect on reducing piracy, we still do not condone copying games illegally.

“We’re doing our part to keep our relationship with you, our gaming audience, a positive one. We’ve heard your concerns, listened to your voices, and we’re responding to them. But you need to help us and do your part: don’t be indifferent to piracy. If you see a friend playing an illegal copy of a game – any game – tell your friend that they’re undermining the possible success of the developer who created the very game that they are enjoying.

“Unless you support the developers who make the games you play, unless you pay for those games, we won’t be able to produce new excellent titles for you.”

Back in December, the firm estimated The Witcher II had been pirated “4.5 million times”.

Thanks, Blue.

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16 Comments

  1. DSB

    I think there’s a pretty simple solution to this: Launch it on Steam, and keep it on Steam.

    If they hadn’t been so keen on promoting GOG as a platform, I think they would’ve sold more legitimate copies.

    They’re really in limbo though. Gamers react strongly to hiring anti-piracy mercenaries, and they also don’t like DRM for obvious reasons, but you’re never going to have it both ways.

    To be in good faith, anti-DRM has to also mean anti-piracy, and personally I have no problem with companies holding people accountable for their actions, as long as they obey the law, as long as the law isn’t a subversion of peoples basic rights along the lines of SOPA or PIPA.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. deathgaze

    I think it’s worth pointing out that the game shipped in a state that was, for most people, completely unplayable. Since you can’t patch the pirated version, pirates would be stuck playing the broken version 1.0 of the game until a pirate update is released. Those pirated updates don’t usually get downloaded that widely, either.

    I’m not condoning the piracy, I’m just pointing out that there’s no way that the pirates got anything close to an optimal experience. In fact, many folks are still complaining about the legitimate version of the game, even though it’s had several major patches by now.

    The piracy numbers for this game could also be somewhat attributed to CD Projekt, as they have not, as yet, provided a demo version of the game for PC gamers. This goes for all PC game developers, as well. If you don’t want your game to be pirated then I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t help to have a demo available for the people who want to try the game before they buy it. Say what you like about it, but $50 is a lot of money to take it on faith that we’ll enjoy a given game. If there isn’t a demo, the full version for free is only a few clicks away…

    #2 3 years ago
  3. DSB

    I think that’s a moot point. You’re not entitled to a demo. Demos cost money to make, and people generally don’t demand to watch the first 30 minutes of a movie to know whether they like it or not.

    What you buy is your responsibility. Don’t want it, don’t buy it. If you buy it, it’s on you.

    I might despise myself for buying RAGE but ultimately it was my decision. A demo might have helped, but I’m not entitled to one. It’s called being a responsible adult.

    Being spoiled isn’t the best excuse I’ve seen for piracy. I get that the games press is pretty shit, and I get that it makes it hard to get an honest opinion on a game, but you’re still perfectly capable of sniffing out peoples impressions. Right here on VG247 we do a pretty good job of sharing those.

    I don’t know, but I don’t think CD Projekt Red is the richest developer in the world. They’d probably prefer to spend their money on developing the best game they can make, rather than releasing a demo. And given that they’re saving you the hassle of DRM, I think it’s pretty cheap to start complaining about demos.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Takeshi

    #2 Not all developers have the luxury of making demos to the people. Besides: http://www.gaikai.com/games

    #1 Wait, why would they sell more if they hadn’t promoted GOG as much? It’s still on Steam so there would merely be a difference in those still wanting it on Steam and those interested in getting it on GOG.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. DSB

    @4 Maybe I have it all wrong, but I figure it would be a lot harder to redistribute it that way, in the way of offering more control for the developer, for little to no hassle for the consumer.

    http://www.steampowered.com/steamworks/publishingservices.php

    They’ve made quite a few difficulties for themselves by not really accomodating Steam during the post-release support for the game, so it seems a bit like pissing your pants to stay warm to me.

    I can see why they would want to sell as many copies on GOG as they could, to secure the margins, but I don’t think there’s a lot of doubt that the market is on Steam and I personally think they would’ve had a lot fewer issues by going that way.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. freedoms_stain

    @3, personally I think film companies should put up the 1st 30 minutes of their films.

    The way they sell crap films with well edited trailers is nearly a criminal act.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. LOLshock94

    @6 can i have your approval on the newest topic.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. deathgaze

    @3: You’re perfectly right – I’m not entitled to a demo. But we live in the real world, not fantasy happy land where everyone pays for legitimate versions of everything and software vendors always put out perfect products that are always amazing.

    In reality, PC gamers have no hard and fast guarantee that any given game will run on their system. They have an idea, yes, but there’s no way to know for sure until the game is installed and the icon clicked twice. They also don’t know if it’s even going to be any good, let alone worth 50 bucks. People are an immature and fickle bunch. Most could care less about the well-being of software vendors. Oh, and it also happens that people love free stuff.

    Your argument is tantamount to saying “Well, people just shouldn’t pirate.” Just because you say it’s wrong, immoral, or even illegal, that doesn’t mean people will stop wanting it. This goes for drugs, pirate downloads, hacking or whatever activity you deem “undesirable” that someone else happens to like.

    If there’s one thing that this lesson has to teach us, it’s that the market will not change to suit your business model. Your company must change to suit the market.

    Getting back to the original point, it’s not your call to say “put it on Steam” any more than it’s my call to say “Just make a demo.” It’s not our business decision, it’s CD Projekt’s. Furthermore, neither solution would prevent piracy of the game, but only one could conceivably help reduce the number of people that want to pirate it.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. freedoms_stain

    @7, It’s not mine to give, if you thought it was appropriate you would have posted it without asking, so I think your answer lies in that, don’t you?

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Edo

    #3 “The customer is always wright” remember that one?Yes,demos cost money but in case you haven’t noticed so DO games and “What you buy is your responsibility”!?Oh really!?I ‘m guessing expecting “bang for your buck” doesn’t ring a bell either….

    #10 3 years ago
  11. LOLshock94

    @9 Can you delete it please.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. DSB

    @8 Actually my argument is tantamount to “at some point pressure to adapt descends into petty blackmail”. Very few developers offer as much good faith as CD Projekt has, and when the payment in kind is people happily passing their product around and screwing them out of a business, then it’s not time to bend over and take it, it’s time to find a better way to get at them.

    To a large extent I agree that the more you do to accomodate people, the more they’ll be inclined to put their money down, and I think that’s the best medicine against software piracy today. My point is that quite arguably CD Projekt has gone a lot further than the average publisher in doing so, but they haven’t been allowed to reap the rewards due to some people exploiting their good faith.

    With a demo you’re talking about something that actually costs money, as opposed to DRM. DRM is a further expense to the publisher, it has no effect, and as such it’s a waste for all involved. The paying customer gets hassled, and they get no return on their investment.

    As such, it’s far from unreasonable to demand that it be removed from the industry. Unlike a demo, which presents an actual expense, that smaller developers are unlikely to front, when they’re already at a disadvantage to fund their games.

    I haven’t seen any data to support that people actually pirate for the sake of trying out a product. I think it’s a bad excuse for people who know they’re taking the easy way, and doing something they shouldn’t be. And quite obviously, since most games with a dedicated Steam component do sell more than The Witcher 2, demos or not, I think that gives a far stronger indication, than simply an unsubstantiated claim that people feel a sanctimonious entitlement to try before they buy.

    Personally I think it’s just a question of prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law, without leaving yourself open to the accusation of being the blackmailer.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. DSB

    @10 If you buy something that you happen not to like, you’re perfectly welcome to punish the manufacturer or store by not giving them anymore of your business.

    Bad products should have negative consequences. The same goes for bad decisions on your part.

    The customer isn’t always right. Sometimes he’s just a sanctimonious idiot. If you try to accomodate every single idiot that comes into your store, you’re probably not doing the best thing for your business. Some people have needs that should rightly be accomodated, others just feel entitled to step on other people, because they think themselves the anointed few.

    The customer doesn’t always know what’s good for him. Do you want to pay an extra 5-10 euro per game if it’ll get you a demo? I really doubt it, and I don’t think it’ll make it easier to sell the game for a smaller company.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. deathgaze

    @12: Point taken. However, I also want to point out that there’s lots of data out there that hasn’t been released to the public by the ‘anti-online-piracy lobby’ that seems to indicate that pirates are much better customers than the “12 year old with uTorrent and an internet connection” that you’re trying to portray them as.

    In reality, once again, your average pirate is in a much greyer area than you automatically assume they are. They are sophisticated and enjoy purchasing good, quality content. They’re just willing to pirate it first and then buy it.

    Furthermore, the stateside anime trade, as an example, has flourished for years exactly because of piracy. In that case, when people pirate shows and movies stateside, they’re indicating demand for a given title or product. This gives the publisher the confidence to give the title a domestic release. And then it sells just fine. There are more examples I can cite, if you like.

    Prosecuting people has clearly not worked out for anyone. The MPAA and RIAA both tried it and failed to really accomplish anything except ill will. CD Projekt tried it too and the unstated narrative in this article points to an onerous fact: it simply isn’t profitable.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. DSB

    @14 I don’t recall saying anything to the contrary.

    It stands to reason that you’d pirate a lot more if you generally consume a lot more, if you’re okay with doing the former.

    I despise the MPAA and RIAA, and I despise the ESA. I oppose SOPA, PIPA and any other measure that will subvert civil rights. I also oppose people grabbing a copy of something they want without paying, if they are in fact supposed to.

    Again, I have no problem being against power hungry publishers, DRM and piracy all at once.

    I didn’t see anything suggesting that actual copying was helpful to the anime industry in that article. Streaming it online was. I’m not saying there aren’t things to be gained by demos, I’m merely saying that it’s a luxury that some developers won’t want to spend money on, and something that people can’t possibly kid themselves that they’re entitled to.

    “Studies also show” that the best turnover doesn’t come from demos or reviews, but from recommendations between friends.

    I think the fact that CD Projekt is forced to back down only serves to prove that threatening lawsuits in lieu of an out-of-court payment isn’t popular, and that’s a pretty considerable distinction.

    Whatever the studies say, it doesn’t make the loss for CD Projekt any easier. You can always argue a lost sale versus an illegitimate copy, but the reason why the law doesn’t distinguish, is because it’s impossible to argue in court. As such I have no problem with people being called out.

    It’s also worth considering that even pay-what-you-wants like The Humble Indie Bundle get pirated many times over. Do you honestly believe that these people are trying to get out of paying a single US cent, for a handful of games that register on Steam (!) without any extra charge, simply because their “needs” are being ignored?

    http://blog.wolfire.com/2010/05/Saving-a-penny—-pirating-the-Humble-Indie-Bundle

    If that’s their justification, they don’t deserve to be taken seriously. Personally I reckon they’re just scum.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. HauntaVirus

    CDP owns, true gamers FTW!

    #16 3 years ago

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